Lando Norris: A Star of the Future
Why is a driver like Lando Norris becoming a very clear asset for F1?
It's not too often that you could include 'twitch streamer' and 'Formula 1 driver' in the same sentence when describing somebody, but it all then more applies to a certain Lando Norris. You would be mistaken for taking this description of Lando up wrong if you were not a major follower of the sport, but those of us who have been following this driver in the past few years will know just how good of a driver and promising talent he is, as well as being a guy making the very best of being in the F1 spotlight.
I first started to follow Lando back in his Euro F3 days, when he liked an Instagram photo of mine when I was over-excited about attending my first British GP back in 2017, and kept my eye on him all the way up to F1. I remember him briefly during his time in Ginetta Juniors and F4 in the UK, and it is awesome to be involved with a driver and watching move up all the way from the junior categories and eventually into F1, and succeeding in F1 at that.
Lando has been very much a part of what I like to call in my articles 'The McLaren Reformation', the takeover by Zak Brown and subsequently all the good and positive things that have come from it since. Grabbing his full-time drive in 2019 with the team after a tenure as the team's test and reserve driver and an awesome F2 campaign in 2018, finishing second only to fellow Briton and Williams driver George Rusell. During this year, he formed his now-iconic friendship with Carlos Sainz and the pair still continue to get up to some silly antics more akin to two schoolboys in class.
On top of this, Lando is often seen streaming on the social media site Twitch, a site open to those who love to stream gaming online and he is more or less seen playing along with fellow drivers and friends Russell, Alex Albon and Charles Leclerc. However, this does not distract from the fact that he is good on the track. I mean, seriously good.
Lando took the second of two podium finishes after a storming drive at the recent Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. (McLaren Media Centre.)
At only 21 years of age, to have taken two podiums with an ever-improving team and becoming a proper team leader is something special. Two years on from his debut in Melbourne, he has established himself as one of the best talents on the track. A quick, hard but fair racer, Lando has become one of the shining stars on the grid, and a driver who has been comfortably holding his own against the powerhouse that is Daniel Ricciardo. He has truly taken control and stepped up within the team after Sainz's departure to Ferrari at the end of the year and while Daniel creeps closer in the MCL35M that he is yet to get fully comfortable with, Lando has been taking the experience and knowledge of the chassis to deliver three top-five finishes in as many races, with a podium coming in Imola as well as holding onto third in the drivers' championship.
What makes Lando different is what goes on outside of the circuit. As I said, many could take his antics on social media or online streaming as something that could pose a distraction to a driver who is still a rather upcoming force in F1, but Lando has managed to pull this in a rather different direction. F1 was in limbo after Bernie sold the corporation and Liberty Media took over throughout the middle of the last decade, and it was clear that something needed to be done to attract both a bigger audience and a younger audience to the sport once again.
Netflix aside of course, Lando has been a fundamental part of this. His constant online streaming of various video games allowed him to engage with other fans and followers throughout the height of the COVID pandemic at the start of 2020, and in turn, his involvement in the F1 eSports series and other online racing championships pulled both racing enthusiasts and gaming fans to the real-world sport of F1 and more importantly, just how good their man Lando actually is at the wheel of a full-on racing car.
And it's not just playing games or taking part in virtual racing championships either. He recently launched an eSports and apparel team, known as Team Quadrant, which is full of other well-known YouTubers and streamers that has allowed for further fan engagement and following, and last year, he used his Twitch platform to race a total of $12,000 for the COVID Solidarity Response Fund in support of the World Health Organisation. He has also been vocal in his own struggles with mental health and F1, and how he worked to become a better person, as well as his work with the UK mental health charity Mind.
What I am trying to say is that Lando has been very clever to use these platforms of engagement and his excessive following on them to not only build interest and a fanbase in both himself as a racing driver and F1 as a sport, but also for the greater good. He's also done all this and not pushed aside the fact that he is a full-time racing driver, and one that is pretty damn good. A driver like Norris is a breath of fresh air in the sport, a driver that the younger generations can really follow and engage with, and in turn figure out for themselves that the sport of F1, if given a bit of interest and time, is one of the most breathtaking sports you can follow.
As this season and indeed the seasons to come go on, I hope Lando can continue being the person and talent he is as I can clearly see why he has become such an icon in the sport in such little time. He's a massive part of the rebuilding process going on at McLaren, and he's encouraging a much bigger fanbase to the sport. I've no doubt that he can go on to become a very big thing in F1 should things continue as they are. Good lad Lando.